International students may find it hard to cope emotionally when entering a different culture and lifestyle, away from family and familiarity.
Sakshi Anand, 25, from a tight knit family in Delhi, chose to come to the United Kingdom because Sheffield Hallam University is the only university that offers MSc in Applying Physiotherapy.
While adapting to study life in the UK, Sakshi noticed that the academic system in UK is totally different from India.
“In India, theoretical knowledge is more important than the practical application,” she said.
However, the UK study system placed more emphasis on practical applications, presentations and online assignments, which enabled her to develop her confidence and key skills.
As Sakshi started to adapt to the new environment, she realised that the UK culture is more open minded compared to the conservative Indian culture.
“There are many cultural differences between Indian and British people, for example, it is normal to see British people openly kissing in the parks.”
In India, doing so is prohibited and people would get thrown out of the society for doing that.
She said: “I understand that it’s important to learn about other cultures, but that doesn’t mean that when you are in the UK, you have to behave and act like the British.”
For Sakshi, living in foreign country gave her a good opportunity to see the world and get exposed to different ways of life.
“Take the best parts of every culture and extract the good experiences. But don’t forget about your own norms, cultures and values. Don’t lose who you are.”
After nearly half a year in the UK, Sakshi, like many other people away from home for the first time, often felt anxious, sad and preoccupied with the thought of home.
“I missed my family a lot especially during the stressful exam period since I’ve always been close to them and suddenly I was far away,” she said.
Since coming here, she learned that independence is very important at this age because she had to learn to cope with everything on her own.
“I said to myself that it’s for my future, life is like a rollercoaster and there are ups and down. God is by my side and it will be fine in a few days,” she said.
Her advice to students who are currently studying abroad is to fill their time with something else.
“Divert your mind and concentrate on what you’re doing, because you’re here for a reason.”
“If you give up on that, you’re not being strong enough and you might spoil your future because of that,” she said.
Studying abroad is a challenge that is worth embracing as you can expand your world view, gain valuable experiences and discover yourself.
-Story by Josephine Chua
-Photo by Josephine Chua
For expert tips on homesickness, check out our related article: How to overcome homesickness.